Nice Non-Hudson: 1934 Terraplane Business Coupe

While it might have been built by Hudson, the 1934 Terraplane carried none of the company’s branding beyond its built plate. In fact, during its lifetime, it was known initially as the Essex-Terraplane, and from 1934, simply the Terraplane. It wasn’t until the final year of production in 1938 that the Terraplane finally wore Hudson branding. This 1934 Terraplane Business Coupe is a solid example that runs and drives. It could easily be used and enjoyed as it currently stands, but a light cosmetic restoration would have it really sparkling. Located in Reno, Nevada, you will find the Business Coupe listed for sale here on eBay. The price has reached $17,600 off the back of some strong bidding, and with the reserve now met, this is a Terraplane that is set to fly off to a new home.

The 1934 Terraplane was available in a number of different body styles, but the swooping lines of the Coupe made it the most attractive model. This one seems to be in very nice condition, with no signs of any dings or dents. The paint itself is an interesting proposition because while from some angles it appears to be black, from other angles it is Dark Blue. The owner lists the color as being Blue, but it is about as dark as you are ever likely to find. The paint does wear a number of scratches and marks, and there is no doubt that the exterior of the vehicle would benefit from a light cosmetic restoration at some point in the future. There are no signs of any rust problems on the vehicle’s exterior, and the owner doesn’t indicate any potential issues under the vehicle. All of the unique Terraplane external trim and chrome appears to be present, and while the majority of it looks to be really nice, the bumpers might benefit from a trip to the plater. The wheels look to be in excellent condition, and all carry their original Terraplane center caps. The glass generally looks nice, although the driver’s side vent window has become cloudy over the years. The glass on the Business Coupe is also something that is quite interesting. The rear window rolls down, the vent windows feature two-way operation, while the windshield also tilts out. The simple fact is that if you can’t get enough fresh air into this car when you are on the move, then you aren’t really trying!

For a car that was essentially aimed at the bottom end of the price market in 1934, the interior of the Terraplane features some nice touches. The appearance of the dash is quite luxurious, while the gauges feature nice Art Deco styling. The interior of the vehicle actually looks quite nice for its age. The dash is in good order, while the seat appears to be free of rips or tears. Some of the upholstery has developed a bit of a dirty look to it, but that is a very common occurrence in vehicles of this age. The next owner might choose to replace or reupholster the door trims and the headliner, but that is in no way a necessity. Leaving it original and untouched would be my own personal preference because this would allow people to see that this is a car that has actually “lived.”

Powering the Business Coupe is a flathead 6-cylinder engine with a capacity of 212ci. This produces a fairly healthy 85hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 3-speed manual transmission. One of the great attractions of the Terraplane when it was new was how much power the engines produced from relatively small capacities. Couple this factor with fairly conservative styling, and it is easy to see why the Terraplane in various forms was a strong favorite amongst bootleggers and some gangsters of the era. Another characteristic that stood the Terraplane apart from its competition was its “Duo-Automatic” braking system. Whilst this was primarily hydraulic, there were still consumers and manufacturers who viewed that type of system with some trepidation. Hydraulic systems of that era had developed something of a reputation for unreliability, and this caused some angst in the market. As a result, the Terraplane utilized a system that was hydraulic but featured a mechanical backup that allowed the vehicle to be brought safely to a halt if the hydraulic system suffered any form of failure. The owner states that the Business Coupe has what he believes to be an original 39,000 miles on the clock. His uncertainty on this point suggests that he doesn’t hold any documentary evidence to verify this claim. He does say that it runs and drives but isn’t clear about how well it achieves either of these feats. What he does say is that the original Owner’s Manual is included in the sale, along with some documentation that traces different aspects of the vehicle’s history back to the early 1950s.

This 1934 Terraplane Business Coupe is what I would tend to call a really cool car. The styling is extremely attractive, and its overall condition shows a lot of promise. Earlier I suggested that it might benefit from a light cosmetic restoration at some point in the future, but in all honesty, if I was to buy it I would be inclined to leave it largely untouched. There’s no rational reason why I would choose to follow that path, but it is just an instinctive feeling that it would be nice to own a vehicle like this that wears its flaws like a badge of honor. After all, it is now an 86-year-old car, and while flawless presentation would be a great attribute, it is by no means essential in any classic car.


  1. dave brennan

    Watta beaut!!! If only lotto would cooperate!!

    Like 9
  2. Fred W

    All the beauty of the ’34 Ford Coupe without the price (so far!)

    Like 7
  3. MattR Member

    The lines are flawless. This is one gorgeous car.

    Like 9
  4. dave smeaton

    Hi,some models came with a straight 8 engine and they were just about the fastest cars of their era . This was why the bootleggers andbank robbers used them,I would guess.Those tsaight 8 engineswere sold to a company in England that used them in a sports car,which was very fast. The name escapes me at the present.

    Like 3
    • luke arnott Member

      Railton used Hudson engines,as did Brough Superior.

      Like 6
    • Wayne from oz


      Like 3
      • luke arnott Member

        Railton used 6 & 8 cylinder Hudson engines,and 4 cylinder Standard engines too.Brough Superior used Hudson sixes,and a one-off Lincoln Zephyr V12.

        Like 3
  5. JW454

    This is one sharp looking car. It’s for sure you’d have the only one at the local cruise-ins. I don’t see anything I’d change. Fix anything it needs then just drive and smile.

    Like 4
  6. Comet

    What a beautiful design. It reminds me of an upscale Ford.

    Like 4
  7. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    those fenders, the spare, and the running board sure appear to be black. V nice car! Bidding is now over $25k. Good.

    Like 1
    • Pete Phillips

      Fast Eddie, I agree. I think it is a two-tone paint job; navy blue body; black fenders and running boards.
      This Terraplane has the same 212 engine as what is in my 1947 Hudson Super Six. Did not realize it was such an oldie!

  8. Lance Nord

    IMHO, the ’34 Terraplane vehicles are simply some of the most stunning examples of automobile art from the manufacturer. One of my pipe dreams is to own a ’34 Terraplane pickup.

    Like 2
  9. Bob Mck Member

    Stunning! Belongs in my garage.

    Like 1
  10. dave smeaton

    Railton is the company I was trying to remember,they built some great cars as well! Ive tried to find a roadtest of a straight 8 Terreplane but I could never find any figures,just that they were one of the fastest American cars of the day. Id like to know how fast they actualy were?

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